Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x17: "Time Of Your Life Part 2"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Karl Moline

Dark Willow (re Buffy): “Tonight. The princess leaves her kingdom for the forest of the now.”
Harth: “I haven’t asked you why you want her here. Or why you want my sister to find her.”
Dark Willow: “But you want to.”
Harth: “Aren’t they more of a threat to us combined?”

Ahh, the future really is going to turn out to be a world where flying cars are all the range and strangely enough this comic doesn’t pick up exactly where the last one left off. In fact instead of Fray and Buffy knocking seven bells into one another, Fray and a pal are trying to stop a vampire nest.

The girl looked like she could be another slayer and even dresses in a military suit that seems more appropriate than Fray’s more casual attire as the two of them give chase to a flying van filled with vampires. Remember the days when vampires use to pick less glamorous places to keep away from slayers?

Fray’s already been depicted as something of an impulsive girl so there’s no real surprise when she’s too impatient to wait for her friend and decides to do some slaying. She already used her scythe to tear a big hole in the side of the van, so what’s a little slay action going to do?

Fray grabs the first vampire she’s able to snare and the two of them descend to battle. Her mate on the other hand wonders why she’s always got to be so impulsive. Seeing as I’m still getting to know Fray myself I have little to no idea as to what she actually thinks but I do like what I’m seeing so far.

The first topic of interest is Fray trying to find someone named Harth and as the two of them battle in the air, it’s clear that Harth is definitely a bad guy as such. He’s apparently promised the vampires Fray’s world but it also turns out that Harth isn’t the only main problem that Fray will have to contend with.

Nope, it seems that a centuries old mad woman who speaks ever so strangely is a far lethal threat to Fray that Harth could ever be. The woman is eerily described that immediately you think it has to be no-one else but Drusilla and seeing as we haven’t seen Drusilla (except for the flashbacks in Angel’s “Destiny” and “The Girl In Question”), it would be an interesting development if it was her.

However Fray’s big mistake is not actually keeping the vampire alive long enough to learn the woman’s name so because of that misstep she has to resort to book research to try and get some answers. There’s a really nice rapport with Fray and her friend but essentially I wouldn’t be surprised if Fray has the same character trait Buffy has when isolating individuals.

Meanwhile we actually get to see Harth is in his full scheming mode with the mystery madwoman. The fact that he remembers fighting her in a dream could mean that their alliance isn’t a solid one. Perhaps she’s coercing him into co-operation or maybe he’s using her as a means to an end. The fact that we’re not seeing her face could also mean that it’s not Drusilla.

If it really was, then wouldn’t Joss just reveal it, there and then? More interestingly is why is this woman so keen for Buffy and Fray to meet up with each other. Harth had a point when he said that the two of them combined could cause more trouble than actual good but it seems that this madwoman has an answer for everything.

The first being the fact that she admires Harth’s schemes regarding his vampire minions abducting women. I’m guessing 200 years in the future there are still going to be vampires out there doing their best to eradicate the slayer line once and for all. Nice to see some consistency, even if it’s on the evil front.

More interestingly is the fact that the madwoman herself point out that two slayers cannot draw power/strength from each other like vampires. So if Buffy and Fray happen to both be wiped out in the future (and that does seem to be the intent here), will that finally do in the slayer time line?

The madwoman makes a good argument about this kind of thing creating ripples. With no slayers in the future, then the future is going to be a lot darker than the parallel world we saw in “The Wish”. A thing like that would make a lot of demons and other evils quite happy.

Elsewhere in the present day Willow is feeling the angst of Buffy being in danger. Much as I like Kennedy, she is kind of annoying in this comic for some reason. She pouts about Willow not being able to save her, even though Willow is beating herself up over it anyway.

So Willow got duped and maybe she should’ve seen it coming but instead of pointing the finger and moping about things, it’d be more in Willow’s interest to just go and find Buffy and send the beastie that replaced back to it’s own time. At least Willow knows that Buffy’s in the future and short of growing her own TARDIS, she should be working on some spell to get Buffy back.

Meanwhile it seems that Amy and Warren’s missile was more than just a simple explosion. No instead it turned the remains of the castle in a green fiery effigy and Rowena also gets some development. Xander has to rely on her to find out how many people actually survived but it’s also him that has to point out to Rowena that they were hit by something supernatural.

You got to hand it to Warren. He did brag about his little missile being the business and it wasn’t actually an empty threat. The Scoobies castle is as good as decimated and to add further annoyance a few demons have also come out to kill off anyone else who survived.

It’s also interesting that Xander is almost forced to admit that he doesn’t have a pun for this situation. This should be unusual seeing as he’s been in worse situations and has managed to pun something but short of Dawn stomping in to save his life, Xander could’ve also been killed here as well.

Now for the icky part – implied Xander/Dawn shipping. Last issue he made a cringing comment about Dawn’s Centaur status and this issue Dawn is forced to tell Xander to ride her, which he naturally misinterprets. Joss, I know you love to take risks and I know that Dawn is an adult but really, do not go there with her and Xander. For one thing, we don’t need to see anymore tension with Buffy and Dawn.

However with Xander and Dawn heading for the forest, a series of other events keep on occurring. First off all there’s Fray trying to find out more about the centuries old madwoman. If the woman isn’t Drusilla, then who else could/would have that power to go through 200 years to cause chaos in Fray’s world?

Willow on the other hand realises that someone else is out to get Buffy and decides to put a plan in action to get her back. Again Willow touches on the fact that she was duped by her sources and Violet tries to find some humour in it. She still however doesn’t realise what’s really going on in the future.

Halfway through this issue we actually get back to the big Buffy and Fray smackdown and visually it looks great. We’ve got both slayers jumping off and on various flying cars but importantly we’ve also got Buffy trying to persuade Fray that she’s a slayer and not a demon.

For the sake of this arc, Fray begins to accept that Buffy is telling the truth but is confused with the time travel. The only thing that confuses me is Fray’s dialogue and there’s a painfully funny one-liner where Buffy holds herself responsible for the devolution of the English language. In fact, Fray’s general banter might be the only thing I have against her for now.

It’s also interesting to learn that while there may be over 2000 slayers in 2005, there’s only just the one in 200 years time. Buffy is suitably shocked by this reveal and there’s a great moment when Fray reveals that Harth is her brother. Okay so Harth revealed the biological link earlier but it’s more impacting when Fray admits it.

Less seriously though is Fray’s watcher who seems to be a little on the letchy side. Okay so he’s a demon too but Buffy seems more fixated on the pervy element when he has a look under her dress. That being said he supposed to have some useful information behind Buffy’s time travel so he’s not entirely bad.

As for the identity of the madwoman – it’s Willow. Yep, she has gone back to her dark side and apparently has taken fashion tips from Drusilla of all people. Once again she mentioned that Buffy has failed and is feeling the weight of it. She does sound sad when saying it, so her motives for teaming up with Harth seem less clear than at the start of the novel. The other question is does he know who she is because none of his minions seem to have an iota.

Also in “Time Of Your Life”

The cover for this issue was with Buffy, Fray and the latter’s Mer-creature watcher. The clothing was different to inside the comic.

Vampire: “This can’t hap! He promised us your world!”
Fray: “Spled for you. Where?”
Vampire: “He said the madwoman would save us!”

Fray’s pal looks incredibly much like Buffy. I did actually think it was her at one point.

Dark Willow: “Your schemes are ingenious. Keeping your force mobile, spreading the beloved infection throughout Noram … you gnaw at the root of your own world. But there is nothing a slayer cannot overcome.”
Harth: “Then why call for another?”
Dark Willow: “Vampires gain strength from each other. Slayers ultimately don’t. What happens in your time will cause your time to come, don’t you see?”

Kennedy: “I thought this temporal event thingie was supposed to help us.”
Willow: “So did I. Which means … this is my fault.”

Perhaps a possibility but maybe a reason why Willow might have gone dark again was that Kennedy might have been killed.

Xander: “Soldiers die, Rowena. They do it all the time. This is fried. We’re not calling for help. Whatever hit us was mystical, okay? Flames are not bright green.”

Dawn: “You’re gonna have to ride me.”
Xander: “What? Ah ride you!”
Dawn: “Hennh.”
Xander: “Aagh.”

The synopsis for this issue seems to be a general summary of the main events of the season. Like the way they emphasise Dawn’s part though.

Dawn: “You’re pulling my hair.”
Xander: “I’m holding your mane.”
Dawn: “My hair is my mane.”

Buffy: “We both have scythes. We both have awesome kung fu moves. Turn offs include smokers, insensitive men and vampires. You with me?”
Fray: “It’s not poss.”

I’m still confused about how Fray considers herself only half a slayer. Unless there’s something else that Harth has on her.

Buffy: “Vampires are lurks. A spin is a lie. Toy is bad but spled is good. Boy, the English language is just losing it. I should have treated it better.”
Fray: “Gunther! I can hear you down there! Turn off the rutting lights!”

Dark Willow: “Why do you need to destroy your sister?”
Harth: “She’s the last thing I ever loved. We’re connected. Her pain is my joy, my true. And what in the world is stronger than love?”
Dark Willow: “Time. Only time.”

The next issue in this saga is out on the 4th of September, a week after “After The Fall Part 11”.

Okay this was a strange issue for me. “Time Of Your Life Part 2” had some good quotes and showed a rather dystopian future but I’m not so sure I like the whole idea of Willow going dark again. Plus the less of Fray’s street slang the better in my book.

Rating: 7 out of 10.